Ianiri, Hope

Hope Ianiri got her B.S. in Chemistry at Northeastern University and is now pursuing her PhD in Ocean Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She studies marine carbon and nitrogen cycling with a goal of understanding what causes carbon to be sequestered by the ocean on millennial time scales. Hope aspires to teach at a research focused institution and hopes to use the skills developed during ISEE’s PDP to create an engaging and inclusive classroom and improve STEM education.


Teaching Activity Summary

Name of Teaching ActivityClimate Science WEST 

Teaching Venue: UCSC WEST Program, September 2019

Learners: 28 community college transfer students.

Reflection on teaching and assessing the practices of science or engineering:

Our activity aimed to give learners experience constructing an argument based on the interpretation of the data. This is a STEM practice routinely used by scientists in all fields of STEM regardless of career stage or experience. Because of this, an ability to construct evidence-based scientific explanations is highlighted by education researchers and national science education standards (McNeill & Krajcik 2008). Still, it is not something that is often taught in a classroom setting, and it has been shown students can struggle to provide evidence for their argument or reasoning as to why their evidence supports their claim (McNeill & Krajcik 2009). Because of this, we evaluated our learner’s development of this practice according to the following three criteria: 1) Stating an argument/claim that addresses the content prompt 2) Supporting the argument using relevant data and 3) Providing reasoning which links evidence to the argument. This was evaluated via written answers to a worksheet, discussions in small groups, individual facilitation, and final group poster presentations.

By the end of the activity most students had achieved this core practice. Initially, multiple students tried asking broad “why” questions, which did not necessarily address the learning goals of the activity and could not be answered with the data we provided. This made it difficult for them to provide concrete evidence to address the question. However, with some facilitation we were able to steer learners towards more concrete questions which could be answered with the resources provided.

One compelling case I observed for an understanding of this practice was by a student studying sea level rise in Quito, Ecuador. This student made the argument that predicted sea level change in Quito, Ecuador differed in both magnitude and direction in Quito than expected for the global average, an initially surprising result. They supported this claim with a time series plot comparing predicted sea level change in Quito and the global average, each with a linear regression. They calculated the total predicted change for each region between today and the year 2100, as well as the slope and R 2 value of linear regression. They then used her figure and this data to support their claim verbally during the a group discussion as well as during the poster presentations. Thus, this student provided an argument which addressed the content prompt (spatial differences in climate variables), provided concrete evidence to support their claim, and provided reasoning which connected the data to their claim.